Scotland’s development agency for the Highlands and Islands has set out its plans to create jobs and support an inclusive and green economic recovery over the coming year.
‘Action for Jobs and Communities’ is the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) operating plan for 2021-22.
It includes targets to support more than 700 jobs, increase business turnover by more than £80m and secure £60m-£80m in capital asset investment, including green investment.
The agency also plans to support 30-40 income generating assets for communities and increase social economy turnover by £3m-£4m.
Resilience support will focus on sectors such as tourism and food and drink, as well as island, rural and disadvantaged areas most impacted by COVID-19 and the UK’s exit from the European Union.
HIE will also pursue new opportunities for employment and business growth in evolving sectors such as life sciences, energy, space and the marine economy, where the region has many natural advantages.
Other priorities include supporting projects linked to population resilience and talent attraction, and accelerating progress in the just transition to net zero emissions.
Collaboration with partners at local, regional and national levels is a theme that will continue to run across all HIE activities.
Charlotte Wright (pictured), HIE chief executive, said:
“We are delighted to publish our operating plan for the year ahead.
“This is about resilience, restart and green recovery.
“It’s about developing and pursuing opportunities that will generate significant growth in the medium to long-term, especially in our islands and rural mainland areas.
“And it’s about attracting talent and retaining rural populations.
“Jobs and communities are our prime focus, whether we are leading projects, supporting third parties, or working with partners to help create a better future for our region and its people.
“All of this means targeting our resources to maximise benefits, while being a strong and passionate voice for the Highlands and Islands that informs national decisions and attracts additional investment.”
Alistair Dodds, chair of HIE, said:
“This operating plan responds to both the pandemic and the changes introduced by the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“Its development has been informed by our experiences over the past year, by the views of our customers and partners, and by our vision and ambition for this region, which remain as strong as ever.
“We look forward to implementing the plan in ways that benefit all parts of the Highlands and Islands and ensure our region plays a full role in Scotland’s economic recovery and transition to net zero.”